Holland repeats in men’s boardercross
January 27, 2007
ASPEN ” Two decorated competitors, jockeying for position at the front of the pack in Saturday’s boardercross final, were poised to make history.
Shaun Palmer of California, gunning for an unprecedented seventh X Games gold medal, vaulted into the lead after the hole shot. Olympic champion Seth Wescott, from Maine, was hoping a 10th trip to Winter X would yield that illusive first gold medal.
Both will have to wait another year. Squaw Valley’s Nate Holland, who dominated the field en route to a convincing win at Winter X Games 10 last year, utilized some late-race heroics to seize the spotlight and complete the repeat. Xavier de le Rue and Wescott finished second and third, respectively; Palmer took fourth. Of the Americans to reach the final, two made the podium.
“It was a superstar heat,” Holland said. “I’m glad I didn’t get the hole shot. I’m stoked that I really had to work for it.”
Palmer, a back-to-back boardercross champion in 1998 and 1999, left the rest of the six-man field in his wake at the start. Holland said he tried to make a move for the front but, because all his speed dissipated when he hit the wind, he decided to jump behind Palmer and draft off him.
Holland waited to make his move, then took advantage of a Palmer mistake to take the lead. When Palmer went high around a bank turn, Holland cut to the inside and pulled ahead. For the last few hundred yards, Holland fought headwinds and a host of competitors in close pursuit.
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It was a scenario he knew well after a tight semifinal. Holland trailed Wescott and said he was on his way to cruising into the final. Things heated up, however, when Holland lost his rhythm on a roller then spotted a group of competitors in his periphery.
“Once you hear people behind you, you push on the gas pedal,” he said. “That was a huge confidence builder.”
Holland kept the momentum going in the final on a course well suited to his riding style.
“I’ve proven I can ride well on this course. I’m comfortable at high speeds and in the air,” he said. “I let the board run and stayed off the edges. I let the base do its job.”
The win is the third X Games gold for Holland, who was quick to credit his wax technician, Curtis Bacca from Sun Valley, Idaho.
“Curtis really has Aspen nailed,” Holland said.
Things were not as smooth for Wescott, who started the final from one of the outer gates and struggled for the entire 3,500-foot course to get near the front. Palmer pinched him at the start and, to avoid going off course, he had little choice but to pull back.
He had worked his way into second on the final feature, but mistimed the knuckle, allowing de le Rue to sneak by.
“It was a case of doing shitty during the time trial,” Wescott said. “It’s impossible to pull the hole shot [from the outside lanes]. If you pull the hole shot, it’s easy to control the race.”
All three local competitors failed to qualify for the final. Carbondale’s Ross Trulove finished 10th and Basalt riders Jason Smith and Cleve Johnson took 14th and 19th, respectively.
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1. Nate Holland Squaw Valley, Calif. 1:06.646
2. Xavier de le Rue Saint Lary, France 1:05.673
3. Seth Wescott Sugarloaf, Maine 1:05.850
4. Shaun Palmer South Lake Tahoe, Calif. 1:05.684
5. Marco Huser Glarus, Switzerland 1:05.299
6. Paul Henri de le Rue Saint Lary, France 1:05.090
7. Drew Neilson Vernon, BC, Canada 1:06.222
8. Nick Baumgartner Iron River, Mich. 1:05.235
9. Alberto Schiavon Madonna di Campiglio, Italy 1:10.901
10. Ross Trulove Carbondale, Colo. 1:07.391
11. Pat Holland Tahoe City, Vt. 1:09.253
12. Ben Jacobellis Stratton, Vt. 1:06.672
13. Mario Fuchs Maishofen, Austria 1:06.221
14. Jason Smith Basalt, Colo. 1:06.233
15. Markus Schairer St. Gallenkirch, Austria 1:06.501
16. Vincent Valery St. Martin de Londres, France 1:06.960
17. Mark Schulz Lake Oswego, Ore. 1:07.003
18. Tom Velisek Squamish, BC, Canada 1:07.197
19. Cleve Johnson Basalt, Colo. 1:07.408
20. Rob Fagan Squamish, BC, Canada 1:07.425
21. Alex Deibold Manchester, Vt. 1:07.215
22. Ross Powers Londonderry, Vt. 1:08.907
23. Ludovic Guillot-Diat Villard de Lans, France 1:09.498
24. Jayson Hale Sugarbowl, Calif. 1:09.543
25. Graham Watanabe Hailey, Idaho 1:05.879
26. Francois Boivin Jonquiere, QC, Canada 1:11.411
27. Ralph Backstrom Squaw Valley, Calif. 1:11.974
28. Pierre Vaultier Briancon, France 1:12.260
29. Nate Galpin Hailey, ID 1:12.552
30. Michal Novotny Prague, Czech 1:12.650